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Nearly as old as photography itself, 3D photography has come and gone in roughly 50 year cycles. So Fujifilm has lobbed its FinePix REAL 3D system nearly right on schedule, coinciding with fervent activity in Hollywood as 3D movies spill onto screens around the world.
I’ve spent a bit of time with the with 3D, having owned and used large format vintage wood, leather and brass stereo cameras, 1950s-era 35mm cameras such as the Stereo-Realist and a passionate affair with Nimslo’s 35mm 1980s camera that produced lenticular prints.
Fujifilm tackles the task differently: the 10 megapixel camera has a 3x optical zoom and can capture, preview 3D on screen and (via a Fujifilm facility) print digital photos in a 3D format. And you don’t wear anaglyph (red/blue-green) or polarised spectacles to view the stereo effect.
The die-cast aluminium bodied camera and optional viewer are styled in black. Kicking off the power by sliding the front panel downwards revealed a pair of 3x zoom lenses that feed individual CCDs, spaced about 77mm apart; the usual separation in stereo cameras is about 65mm — the lateral separation of human eyes.
This inter-ocular separation is claimed to be for subjects 2.3 metres or farther away; the rule is that lens-to-lens distance should be around 1/30th the subject distance.
Powered up, you get a splash screen showing the REAL 3D logo, quickly followed by the real world before your camera — in 3D. Eerie it is!
Take a shot. Wait a sec. Then you get a 3D view right there on the 7.1cm LCD screen. Amazing. Stereo, right there on screen!
There’s more. Add the REAL 3D V1viewer with its 20cm screen to the equation, link your camera (complete with shots) via a USB input and view them in all their depth.
While the camera captures two views, one for each eye, the actual display on the camera’s or viewer’s displays is passed to your two eyes via a lenticular (ribbed) screen grid, directing the appropriate view to the specific eye.
For a stereo effect your head position is critical; move a fraction to either side and you get double images.
It’s best if you don’t shoot a very close object fronting a more distant one. The best shots are views with a tightly controlled range at least two metres or more away. But once it’s working properly, the effect is magic.
The camera can capture two files: a JPEG and an MPO image … the former is a normal 2D image, the latter being the 3D image, viewable in stereo only on the camera or viewer screen. Maximum image size is 3648×2736 pixels, so a 2D print of 31x23cm is achievable.
The Advanced 3D setting commands the camera to shoot a pair of 3D shots, either one by one, moved laterally between shots — or spaced apart by a time delay. The former could be useful to shoot your own 3D pair of distant subjects; the latter could be used if the camera is moving.
There is parallax control to vary the image separation: if, after shooting a picture, you feel the lateral positioning to be extreme or insufficient, you can vary it. Incredibly, you can even realign the lenses’ relative vertical axes. Fujifilm has thought of everything!
The macro mode is operative only in 2D but I was able to do some reasonably close 3D shots with the zoom set to full tele.
There are the usual helpers: face detection; onboard flash has all the modes (forced on/off flash, slow sync etc); scene modes such as night, portraits etc; continuous mode.
A mind-blaster is the camera’s ability to shot a pair of 2D shots, one with the lens at wide, the other at tele; with different colour settings; different ISO.
Movies? Yup! And are they an experience! While captured at only 640×480 pixel resolution, you get the full 3D effect by panning the camera around, with subjects floating past you in depth; do some recording, then replay and enjoy a surreal view of the real world, as viewed on an LCD screen. But you can’t run it on a normal TV.
You get a reasonable range of ISO settings: 100 to 1600. From my tests the 100 to 800 appear to be useable with noise not a serious problem; however the 1600 level shows quite a bit of noise and colour artefacts.
There is one trap here and this probably applies to other digicams: when shooting with ISO on auto, in low light situations the system may default to a high ISO setting to access a faster shutter sped and/or smaller lens aperture — as this shot of a café did, defaulting to ISO 800!
To view your 2D and 3D images or movies you can either connect the viewer directly to the camera — or slip the SD card directly into the viewer. You can also add the images to the viewer’s 512MB of internal memory by infra red. A mains power input and remote control completes the kit.
You can run images singly or as a slide show; to accompany the presentation you can replay either internal tracks or add your own MP3 tracks.
Fujifilm has developed a 3D print system. This service will initially be offered via an online Fujifilm microsite. Files are uploaded, printed in Japan and posted back to the consumer.
Current prices in the UK:
152×102 mm: £3.99 / €4.39 each
179×127 mm: £4.29 / €4.69 each
The WOW! factor is undeniable. If you want to explore some radical technology, go for it. The camera and technology are to die for!
I seriously question the all-over black styling, coupled with the tiny controls picked out in grey, makes it a real challenge to work the camera in dim light.
Quality: the 3D shots are superb; 2D about average in colour and resolution.
Why you’d buy the REAL W1: You love 3D.
Why you wouldn’t: You’re not a tech-head; pricey.
Image Sensor: 10.0 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zone, averaging; spot.
Sensor Size: Two 11mm CCDs.
Lens: Two Fujinon f3.7-4.2/6.3-18.9mm (35-105mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 3 to 1/1/1000 second.
Exposure Control: Auto, Program AE, aperture priority, manual.
Metering: Multi zone, averaging, spot.
Continuous Shooting: Up to two (3D) or three (2D) shots per second; maximum: 40 shots.
Memory: SD, SDHC cards plus 42MB of internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2736, 3348×2432, 2592×1944, 2048×1536. Movies: 640×420, 320×240.
File Formats: MPO+JPEG or MPO, AVI Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 1600.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 123.6x68x25.6 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 300 g (inc battery, memory card).
Price: Get a price on the Fuji FinePix W1 on Amazon